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What is the difference between añadir and exagerar? In my dictionary añadir means to add and to exagerrate.

  1. Él exagera el problema cada vez cuando estamos trabajando en un proyecto.

  2. Él añade el problema cada vez cuando estamos trabajando en un proyecto.

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Are these real-life examples, or sentences you made up? None sounds quite correct to my fluent (but not native) Spanish ear. –  Alexis Pigeon Dec 10 '13 at 11:05
    
Both sentences are badly constructed, and I'm not even sure what's the intended/original meaning. Would you add the english sentence? –  leonbloy Dec 10 '13 at 13:30
    
@leonbloy What's the problem in understanding what he means: "He always exaggerates the problem when we're working on a project" –  Em1 Dec 10 '13 at 15:20
    
@Em1 I'm just not sure if that means that he "says/assumes the problem is bigger/worse than it actually is" or if he "makes the problem bigger" –  leonbloy Dec 10 '13 at 15:25
    
@leonbloy Coming from the English langauge, exaggerate means that you say that something is larger/bigger/... than it actually is. So I guess that's what he intends to say –  Em1 Dec 10 '13 at 15:28
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3 Answers 3

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Verb «añadir» is a ditransitive verb, which requires both a direct object (what you add) and an indirect object (what you add it to). It also has a neutral connotation. You add something to something. Period.

Verb «exagerar» is a transitive verb, which requires a direct object (what you enlarge). It also has a non-neutral connotation: You enlarge something excessively (e.g. you exaggerate something).

There are neutral translations to enlarge, such as «agrandar» and «aumentar», which are also transitive, requiring an object (what you enlarge).

So the corrected phrases would be:

  1. Él exagera el problema cada vez que trabajamos en un proyecto.
  2. Él agranda el problema cada vez que trabajamos en un proyecto.
  3. Él le añade complicaciones1 al problema cada vez que trabajamos en un proyecto.
  4. Él le añade problemas al proyecto cada vez que trabajamos en uno.

1. complicaciones might be changed for a more expressive word, with probable regional variants. In Colombia and the Caribbean that be «vainas».

So, first, «añadir» requires a completely different construction than «exagerar». It requires something to be added and something to add that to. What you add might imply it is “too much“ or might not.

Secondly, the difference between «agrandar» and «exagerar» is the same difference than between “to enlarge” and “to exaggerate”. The first is neutral and the second implies excess.

In these particular examples, «exagerar el problema» would mean that he complains about the problem by claiming that the problem is bigger than it is, or to make the problem bigger than it should be, while «agrandar el problema» is to actually make the problem bigger than it was; or to find arguments to claim that the problem is bigger than it is.


PS.

Thinking in the construction «cada vez cuando» I might find a possibility that it is not completely incorrect, but it would require a comma:

  1. Él exagera el problema cada vez, cuando estamos trabajando en un proyecto.
  2. Él exagera el problema cada vez que trabajamos en un proyecto.

With the comma is still a little stylistic awkward but would be grammatically correct. In this case «cada vez» would mean somthing like «cada vez que habla», while “we working in a project” is the context. I've heard and used that tacit «que habla» but it is not a good style. A better rephrasing of that meaning would be.

  1. Él se la pasa exagerando el problema mientras estamos trabajando en un proyecto.

Of course, you know the original phrase and its meaning. In English it would be the difference between.

  1. He exaggerates the problem every time (he speaks), when we are working in a project.
  2. He exaggerates the problem every time that we are working in a project.

The rephrasing would be.

  1. He keeps exaggerating the problem when we are working in a project.
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You can use 'añadir' in a similar way to add in English, so you are including something in the context.

In your example the problem is added in the project.

'exagerar' means that something is been emphasised to be the principal subject, you do not need to add anything in the context because usually is on it.

In your example the problem the interlocutor wants the problem to be the principal subject of the project.

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What dictionary is that? “Añadir” doesn't mean to exaggerate, unless it's some obscure dialectal usage (in which case I doubt it would appear in a Spanish-English dictionary).

“Exagerar” means to exaggerate (to say something is bigger/better/etc than it actually is), and “añadir” just means to add something to something else, possibly making it bigger.

But your second sentence is strange. Written as is, it means there is a problem everybody knows about, including the reader, and every time we are working on a project he adds it (to the project--it's implied).

If you wanted to say he makes the problem bigger (by adding something to it), then you should say “él añade al problema”.

In both cases you are missing one part: “él añade el problema (¿a qué?)”, “él añade (¿qué?) al problema”, therefore the sentences don't sound well.

Maybe the word you are looking for is “aumentar” or “agrandar”.

See also the definition of “añadir”.

By the way, “cada vez cuando” doesn't sound very well. It's better to say “cada vez que”.

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I would add that the progressive aspect doesn't sound right in this sentences: «cada vez que estamos trabajando en un proyecto» would better be «cada vez que trabajamos en un proyecto». However this might be rather bad style than bad grammar. –  Carlos Eugenio Thompson Pinzón Dec 10 '13 at 15:17
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